The crisis in sociological leisure studies and what to do about it

BLACKSHAW, Tony (2014). The crisis in sociological leisure studies and what to do about it. Annals of Leisure Research, 17 (2), 127-144.

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In recent years, social philosophers such as Zygmunt Bauman, Agnes Heller, Jacques Rancière, Richard Rorty and Peter Sloterdijk have generated tremendous excitement by offering some revolutionary and radical ways of thinking about human life in the twenty-first century that present some fundamental challenges to sociology as it is normally conducted. Responding to this trend, this article argues that we need to not only fundamentally re-think what we mean by theory in the sociology of leisure but also how we carry out research in leisure studies. The first part of the article argues that orthodox sociological 'Theory' is dead and it offers some good reasons why this is so. It is subsequently argued that there is a crisis in leisure theory which has its roots in the central tenets of sociology. Taking its cue from Jacques Rancière's classic study The Philosopher and His Poor, the article develops the argument that if social inequality was once upon a time the fundamental issue in the discursive formation known as the sociology of leisure, today it urgently needs an alternative cognitive framework for thinking outside this paradigm. In order to substantiate this critique the discussion considers two leading theoretical perspectives in leisure studies: the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and feminist sociology, and in particular, the emphasis currently placed on the idea of intersectionality. It is argued thereafter that sociologists of leisure, and others who carry out research in leisure studies, generally have a particular activity in view: methodological uniformity of both the employment of research methods and the philosophical study of how, in practice, researchers go about their business. But there are some different 'rules of method' when we engage in thinking sociologically after 'Theory'. As will be demonstrated in the final part of the article, analysis of this second kind of activity does not rely on the tools, epistemological frameworks and ontological assumptions generally used to make sense of leisure. Instead it develops its own new 'rules of method' which turn out to be radical, because they are not 'rules of method' at all.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sport Industry Research Centre
Identification Number:
Page Range: 127-144
Depositing User: Hilary Ridgway
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 10:32
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 15:02

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